Deadly clashes as jihadists attack besieged Syria regime villages

Aoud Moustafa 12 scores a goal in Zaizon refugee camp in Deraa Syria. — Reuters

The bombing raids hit a string of towns and villages in the northwest province of Idlib, which is nearly entirely controlled by various militant and hardline rebels.

The air strikes came a day after militants from Al Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate launched an attack on Fuaa and Kafraya, two villages held by the regime but cut off by hardline forces.

Late on Saturday, Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS) and allied fighters shelled Fuaa and Kafraya heavily and clashed with local fighters.

"According to available information, there was fierce fighting in the past twenty-four hours in the said district of the province of Idlib between a large formation of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization [outlawed in Russia] and the Jaysh al-Ahrar irreconcilable opposition grouping with the use of heavy artillery guns", the defense ministry said.

The fighting, which was continuing Sunday, had killed six pro-Damascus fighters and at least three Takfiri elements, he added.

Around 10,000 people, majority Shiite Muslims, are estimated to live in the two villages.

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Fuaa and Kafraya are the only two places in Syria now designated as besieged by the United Nations after the government recaptured the Yarmuk Palestinian camp in southern Damascus.

In a statement, Mr Guterres expressed "deep concern" about the strikes and called for a "full investigation into the attacks, especially allegations that there was also a second strike targeting first responders, to establish accountability".

Panos Moumtzis, the United Nations regional humanitarian coordinator, called on major powers to broker a settlement to end the war and avoid a bloodbath in Idlib.

Referring to Turkey, Russia and Iran, which have held peace talks, he said: "This is a de-escalation area, we hope the Astana guarantors, everybody will do everything to ensure a calming down of situation". "There is no other location to move them to [in Syria]", he told a news briefing in Geneva.

The situation was "heartbreaking" and complicated by the fact that Idlib has become a haven for belligerents forced out of former strongholds by government forces and their allies, said the United Nations official. Russian Federation entered the Syria conflict in September 2015, offering support to Damascus, which changed the course of the war, allowing government troops to retake more than half the country from opposition and Daesh terrorists.

Representatives of civil defense Idlib (White helmets - ed.) confirmed the attack on the building of children's hospital in Tetanus, and said that killed five people, including three children.

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